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The Topography of Tears by Rose-Lynn Fisher

The Topography of Tears

by Rose-Lynn Fisher

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This little book is utterly fascinating. Photographer Rose-Lynn Fisher has photographed highly-magnified teardrops, and the variation that they present is astonishing. Tears that look like snowflakes, tears that look like tree bark, and most intriguing of all, tears that look like satellite images of Earth's terrain and cities and bodies of water. Fisher explains that she collected tears of all kinds- tears of joy and sorrow and exhaustion. But we don't always know which tear is which. The focus here is on the art of the tear structure and the strange and wonderful shots that Fisher has produced from them, and many images seem to be named, quite aptly, for the vision they present, rather than the emotion from which they were elicited ("What it meant long after a time forgotten," or "Full measure" or "Near the end Tom wrote, Everything is poetry in action if you can love enough"). My scientific-leaning noggin would have liked to know exactly which tear is which, but, on the other hand, I think the lack of precise tear labeling allowed me to more fully experience the artistry of the images and better appreciate the emotion conveyed through visual rather than analytic means.

This book would be a wonderful, unique gift for a doctor, a therapist, a professor, an artsy friend, or really, any human of your choosing.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher, via LibraryThing's Early Review program, in exchange for an impartial review. ( )
  elzbthp | May 24, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This book is very image-heavy, relying on large grayscale photographs of tears under a microscope, accompanied by very little text. Often the "title" of each image is as short as a single word. The sparse presentation is reminiscent of an art show in a formal gallery, where work is typically installed on white walls in a sea of negative space, supported by explanatory text as small and unobtrusive as possible. This kind of design feels very traditional, like a request to view Fisher's work as more fine art than science experiment, and also like an invitation to approach the images with open-ended curiosity rather than a sense of already knowing. The book itself is a really lovely, high quality paperback with a nice weight in the hands and could make a thoughtful gift or coffee table book. ( )
  theodarling | May 2, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This is a lovely book of black and white photography of tears taken using a microscope. The structures in the tears vary enormously, partly based on the emotion that inspired them. I love the geometry, curves and fractals. I wish there had been a bit more text, making it clearer whose tears and the emotion (and I didn't notice any onion tears, which I would be interested to see). Definitely interesting.
  magid | Apr 28, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Does a tear shed while chopping onions look different from a tear of happiness?

Are my tears of grief the same as my tears of gratitude?

Artist and photographer Rose-Lynn Fisher here presents dozens of photographs of the patterns created when the proteins, minerals and water of tears dry onto slides and are captured through an optical microscope and camera. The black-and-white images are fascinating and varied, often calling to mind the patterns captured in aerial photography, and they’re beautifully published on smooth paper in a pleasing volume with French flaps. And yet, I’m disappointed in the book.

I’m enthusiastic of the Bellevue Literary Press and its mission to present material “at the intersection of the arts and sciences.” I was somewhat aware of the research into differences in tear composition based on emotional state, and was eager to see those differences here. But to be clear: this collection is art, not science. There is no analysis or comparison, only short photo captions -- a few of which are descriptive (for example, the expected “Tears of grief” and “Onion tears”), but most of which are confounding even when approached as poetry (for example, “Now pivotal” and “Old mistakes under a new sky”). More frustrating is Fisher’s note that she wanders each slide “in search of a ‘region of interest’ and then photograph[s] it.” For me, that removed so much context that I had trouble appreciating even the subjective art. ( )
  DetailMuse | Apr 23, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Fisher's approach is to subjectively call out the beauty in one of the simplest but most common experiences of our lives. She could have merely looked at tears from a scientific angle and it would have been clutching at sand, but instead she celebrates the mystery of our humanity in these photographs. It is astounding how different each image is. Fisher's photo titles connect with each piece so well that the viewer easily finds themselves engaging in an emotional and philosophical response to what can only be an abstract image. These photographs share a story, a journey, that is just as much the author's as the viewer's--I hope to share this beautiful collection of art with many others who cross paths with me. ( )
  mandy42990 | Apr 21, 2017 |
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